Grace and peace from God our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord and Saviour, and the co-operation of the Holy Ghost, be multiplied to your love, and to all the God-fearing, for consolation in your pilgrimage, to the praise of the Lord, and to the salvation of all your souls. Amen.
After this my cordial salutation and good wish, please know, my dearest and cordially beloved husband and brother in the Lord, that your dearly beloved wife and sister in the Lord, called Adriaenken Jan's daughter, am still of good cheer in the Lord, and I can never thank the Lord of lords enough for His daily greatness in showing His grace, is to me unworthy one. Eternal praise and glory be to Him, for ever and ever. Amen.
Please know further, J. A., my cordially beloved husband, that I your dearest, beloved wife and sister in the Lord, could not well forbear, but must leave your love, a few lines in remembrance of me, on account of the great love which we have had to each other, and which I hope will abide forever, and that no one shall separate us from it, and though we are separated from each other according to the eternal body, yet love remains. And, in the second place, to comfort you a little, that you would moderate your grief, as one that well knows, that these are the costs of our house which we have founded upon the rock Christ, which house will now certainly continue to stand, through the grace and power of the Lord, though many a storm beat upon it, wherein we rejoice that we have such a faithful Helper in distress. But it is not expedient, that we keep this joy to ourselves alone, but that we spread the same, so that you, my dearest on this earth, and all the God-fearing, if it were possible, might also rejoice, in order that you, my especially beloved husband, and all the God-fearing, may steadfastly persevere, and not be afraid. Though our enemies are so many, we say with the prophet Elisha, "There are more with us than against us," II Kings 6:16. As also Paul says, "If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" Rom. 8:31, 32. And the prophet David says, "The Lord is an invincible shield to all that trust in him; and a faithful helper in distress, for he hears the cry of the afflicted." Hence, my dearest, go on in the confidence in the promises of the Lord, for He is a faithful, true God: there is none like Him; all His promises are yea in Him, and not nay, as well to help us in distress in this present time, as to give eternal life hereafter to them that believe in Christ.
We two unworthy lambs of Jesus Christ go now quite near the city full of all good things, which has become our inheritance through the merits of Christ; yea, we are going out from tribulation, out from all difficulty and peril, and leave you and all the other dearest brethren, sisters and friends, in this dismal wilderness, even in this wicked world full of all unrighteousness where on every hand of evil examples, to the detriment and sorrow of our soul, for one cannot well touch pitch and remain undefiled therewith. Hence it is our conviction that it is the Lord's pleasure to take us two weak lambs away speedily, that we may not be deceived, like Eve, but saved in and through faith in Jesus Christ. And that the only-wise, good and merciful God first tries us somewhat in this one chastisement; this is a token of grace and of special love, for He now deals with us unworthy ones, as a dear father deals with and bears affection to His children, whereby He confirms, according to, His great mercy, that He does not know us as bastards, but as true heirs. Heb. 12:8.
Hence we are of good cheer; whatever the Lord suffers to come upon us, is all for our good, for in tribulation He forgives sin; therefore His holy will be done for our profit, that is, for our salvation, which is our greatest desire, wherefore we endure everything, and are patient, according to the example of job, prophets, the apostles, and the end of our Lord, and other martyrs after them. We now go steadfastly forward, to finish our conflict by the help of the Lord with a faithful heart, even unto death, for we know and believe that the crown of eternal life is prepared for us. Amen. Thus, my cordially beloved husband and dearest brother in the Lord, I your specially, cordially beloved wife, Adriaenken Jans, your dearest sister in the Lord, who have married each other before the Lord and His church, I will herewith bid your love adieu, and await you there with your and our dearest Bridegroom, Christ Jesus. Therefore hold fast that which you have, for it is the only and unadulterated truth, that no one take your crown, for Satan works wonderfully in his own. '
The superior of the Franciscan convent said to me, "Give me Jan Wouterss, he at least said that he is sorry for it." O villain, thought I; I well know your trickery, Thus the Lord kept me, that we may always triumph in Christ: He will still, according to His promise, help us on further in the way to the promised land of our rest.
Herewith I will commend you my dearest husband and beloved brother in the Lord, to the Almighty God, and to the rich Word of His grace, which is able to build you up, to keep you from evil and to bring you to the eternal inheritance; there I hope to see you with eternal joy, to which end the good God grant His grace. Amen. Take this, my brief letter, in good part. To write much I do not deem necessary, for the God-fearing have left us, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, anabundance of writings, for correction, for doctrine, for consolation and strengthening.
I Adriaenken Jan's daughter, your cordial and dearest wife and sister in the Lord, greet you my most beloved husband and dearest brother in the Lord, affectionately with the kiss of eternal love and peace of Christ, with the mouth of my heart, present with you in spirit.
Finally, I herewith bid you adieu once more, and thank you as much as lies in me, for your good company and faithfulness.
Written by me your beloved wife Adriaenken Jans, imprisoned for the testimony of the gospel of Christ, to the praise of the Lord, to the comfort and joy of our neighbor, for a light to them that are yet in darkness, to the confusion of those who have condemned us as apostates, and to the salvation of our. souls. Amen.
I and my fellow prisoner greet you and all the God-fearing much.
We had hoped to offer up our sacrifice on Monday before Mary, and thus to enter into rest; but we were not so fortunate. Hence we hope that it will soon come to pass, if the Lord has so ordered it; but if our tribulation is to last a little longer yet, the will of the Lord be done for our salvation. Amen.
Written in my bonds, the day after Mary in Lent. A. D. 1572, by me,
To the dear wife of my heart, Adriaenken Jan's daughter, out of love, to strengthen your heart. Amen.
We-ought to obey God rather than men. Acts 5:29.
Grace and peace, wisdom and comfort, be with you, my much beloved dear wife and sister in the Lord, from God our heavenly Father; through the great love of His Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, and through the power of the Holy Ghost, and patience in your bonds; this I wish you, my beloved wife and sister in the Lord, as an affectionate salutation, to the praise of the Lord, and to your soul's salvation. Amen. Possess your soul in patience.
After all cordial salutation, my much beloved wife and sister in the Lord, I affectionately pray you, that you will prove valiant in your tribulation and distress, and ever look unto Jesus Christ the author and finisher of our faith, who, when the joy was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame. Heb. 12:2. Mark, he says, despising the shame. Hence go forth without the camp, and help bear His reproach. 13:13. For when Christ suffered, He had to suffer without Jerusalem, and there took upon Him our sins, and became as a worm, greatly despised, says the prophet Isaiah. 53:3. And Paul says, "Who, being in the form
of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but delivered himself unto death, even the death of the cross." Phil. 2:6, 8. And Peter says, "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin: that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God." I Pet. 4:1, 2. Paul also says, "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (II Tim. 3:12); as he also tells the Hebrews (chap. 11) of so many pious witnesses, who through their faith suffered so much, having respect unto the recompense of the reward; they were stoned, cut asunder, tempted, slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins: being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy; and thus they took the kingdom of God by force, hoping only from afar for the promise, which they did not yet possess, as Christ says, "Blessed are the eyes which see what ye now see; and the ears which hear what ye now hear: for many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye now see, and it could not be." Luke 10: 23, 24; Matt. 13:16, 17. Paul also says, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power." Heb. 1:1-3. See now, my dear lamb, how many pious witnesses we have; hence let us not become weary, but see that we may with Caleb and Joshua enter the promised land. For you have already passed through the wilderness, and stand now before the Jordan, which though it is terrible to behold, you will pass over; only waver not, all you need do is to pass over. Be valiant, my lamb; the Lord will help you; put your trust in Him, for He is our captain, our strong fortress and castle. My dear lamb, be of good cheer in the Lord; such a glorious crown is awaiting you, for the Lord says, "Blessed are they who are persecuted for the truth; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 5:10.
See, my fair one, you will be one of that number whom John saw under the altar, who were clothed in white robes; and will help fulfill their number, and the great multitude of whom the angel told Esdras, II Esd. 2:45. For when the number, or the company of the righteous is fulfilled, the rewarding will soon take place. Then shall all your tears be wiped away; the heat of the sun will hurt you no more, for you shall with all the chosen children of God rest under His shadow. My dear lamb, if you now only strive manfully for the truth, it is but for this life; after this time there is no more time. No man is crowned, except he strive lawfully. II Tim. 2:5. And James says, "Dear brethren, we count them happy that have endured." Jas. 5:11. And Solomon says, that His [God's] people are tried as gold in the furnace, and when He finds them acceptable, he receives them as a burnt offering. Wisd. 3:6. Confess now the word of the Lord before this evil generation; for if we confess Him, He also will confess us before His heavenly Father, and before His angels; if we deny Him, he also will deny us; if we believe not, yet He abideth faithful; He cannot deny Himself. Matt. 10:32. II Tim. 2:12, 13. Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal,"The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." v. 19.
Behold, my dear lamb, here the sentence is already pronounced. Take heed now, that in your bonds, as you have begun, you remain faithful for the word of the Lord; that you may receive a full reward, and lose not that for which you have so long labored by faith; for whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God; he that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. II John 8, 9.
Dear Jan's daughter, we expect such a glorious crown, if we abide in the truth; how we will rejoice when we get into the new heavenly Jerusalem, where the streets are of pure gold; and her gates are not closed against the penitent, but they are not open unto the ungodly, for without are dogs and sorcerers. Rev. 21:21; 22:15. See, my dearest lamb, for none but the God-fearing; for them His grace is always ready, and He will give them to drink of the beautiful river, which flows through the fair city; these are the living waters of which the Lord told the Samaritan woman, that if she should drink of them, she should never thirst. John 4:14. Behold, my dear rib, of these waters did all the righteous drink. They drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. I Cor. 10:4, 5.
Behold, dear Adriaenken Jans, what virtues the Lord has shown us, and how richly He has bestowed gifts upon His children, and how He shall endow them when He shall come to judge all the nations of the earth. Then shall we tread down all our enemies, and shall sit with all the elect of God upon twelve thrones, and judge the twelve tribes of Israel; and shall stand in great boldness before the face of those that have afflicted us; and we shall shine as sparks among the stubble, and leap as calves of the stall, in that day which the Lord has appointed. Matt. 19:28; Wisd. 5:1; 3:7; Mal. 4:2, 3. We also read that Esdras saw in the spirit, upon mount Sion, how the Lord went and gave palms into the hands, and set crowns upon the heads, of those who had confessed Him in the world. II Esd. 2:42. Peter also says that we shall be made kings and priests, that we should shew forth the virtues of Him who hath called us out of
darkness into His marvelous light. Rev. 1:6;1 Pet. 2:9.
Ah! Jan's daughter, my dear wife and sister in the Lord, if we were to recount all the glorious promises which the Lord has promised them that continue faithful in their temptation, it would take too much time to write it all.
Herewith 1 commend you my dear wife and sister in the Lord, to God, and to the rich Word of His grace, which is able to keep us from all the subtle wiles with which our adversary the devil walks about us as a roaring lion, as Peter says. I Pet. 5:8. He could assail the Lord; should he then not assault his people? for we are not ignorant of his devices (1I Cor. 2:11), for he works also through his emissaries, that is, the children of unbelief, who will possibly come to assail you; but we can well overcome them, we can do all things through the grace of the Lord, which grace may God grant you and me, and us all. Amen.
Farewell, and pray the Lord for me, that He may keep me in this evil time, that I may always walk in the way of the Lord. I also pray for you, that the Lord will grant you strength, that you may be an acceptable offering unto Him, and that through your bonds and through the voluntary surrender of your body into the tyrants' hands, many may come to the truth. Though it is somewhat hard for the flesh, the Lord can give strength to them that trust in Him. Yes, dear Jan's daughter, my dearest, beloved sister in the Lord, let us take heed and pray the Lord, that we may well guard ourselves, that we do not dishonor the temple of God; for thus says Paul (mark well), "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." I Cor. 3:16, 17. If we guard ourselves well, it will be well with us, for we have a precious treasure in earthen vessels, the Spirit of the Lord, the Comforter, which will not be taken from us, if we fear God, depart from all sin, and do good.
O my dearest, dismiss from your mind that you went there to get the bed, for possibly the Lord wants thus to prove you; and let us not tempt the Lord; He does all for the best; I would not give you for all the treasures of the world; this the Lord knows, for He knows every heart. Now that it is so, let it be so in the name of the Lord. You may readily suppose that Abraham was sorrowful that he had to offer up his beloved son; for he was dear to him, and the Lord had told him that his seed should be as numerous as the dust of the earth and the stars of heaven. But, my dear lamb, he feared the Lord, and dared not disobey His command. Thus we, too, have courage, my dear wife; think, it is only for one evil hour, or half an hour, and all is over, for much may be done in half an hour. See, my dear, he that overcometh shall inherit all things; he that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. Rev. 21:7, 2:11. Wherefore, let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. I Pet. 4:19. Let us pray for them that afflict us (that is, the pope and his adherents), that they may see how blind they are; and also for the magistrates, that they may no longer seek innocent blood, but be satisfied, and see wherein they are sinning before God.
Adieu, be resigned in the Lord, my dear wife and sister in the Lord; take my simple letter in good part, for it has been written from a good intention.
Written with much sorrow and labor. Nothing more for this time, only the Lord keep you in a godly life, and preserve you from the second death. Amen.
By me, your dear husband and weak brother in the Lord, who am not worthy of the name; but by the grace of the Lord we can do all things.
J. VAN DORT.
Written on the 18th and 19th of January, in the year 1572. Whatever I can do for you is at your service; do not spare me. Adieu, farewell; put your trust in the Lord alone, and you will find rest for your soul. Amen.
Yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. John 16:2, 3.